'Parallel Republic' Exhibition

The conference organizers are pleased to announce that in parallel with the conference we will be hosting an art exhibition at the Hatton Gallery (Long Gallery and the Atrium, Newcastle University, NE1 7RH), titled Parallel Republic. The exhibition will be launched following the opening of the conference on Friday 1 March 2019. 

More information about the exhibition:

For many people, the little they know of Syria and its people comes from media coverage of the Conflict. Syria is so much more than that. Its beating heart is filled with the treasures emanating from a deep well of artistic creativity.

Parallel Republic: The Art of Civil Disobedience contains painting, illustration, photography, film, animation, graffiti and music born of the Syrian uprising and the bravery of many citizen journalists and artist-activists. It reflects on the personal impact of the political, and the power of citizens to document war while the media narrative simplifies outcomes and events, dangerously skewing reality and warping genuine attempts at truthful reportage.

Conscientious artistic creation is a dangerous act in Syria. When, in 2011, a group of school children were arrested and tortured for writing “Ash-sha’b yurid isqat an-nizam” (“The people want to overthrow the regime”) on the walls of Dera’a, their act sparked renewed Syrian protest and uprising at the time of the Arab spring. As the war rages on and under the weight of this oppression, countless artists, musicians and activists are standing up to be seen and heard, dealing with the chaos of war through painting, illustration, photography, film, graffiti and music.

The suppression of information-sharing under Assad’s regime has led to collectives, anonymous at first but increasingly identified, sharing artwork, photography, posters and newspapers for print and distribution via social media – an act of rebellion in itself.

These artist-activists have created a parallel republic where artists and activists share information and express themselves virtually, as well as on the streets.

Graffiti and stenciling has continued to form a vital act of creative expression and defiance throughout Syria’s war-torn towns and cities.

Satire, as in conflicts throughout history, forms an important tool in communicating events, as shown in the posters, comics and the incisive puppetry of Top Goon. Artists and illustrators, many of whom have left Syria, are using their talents to process the chaos and trauma of war, highlighting the effects of conflict on their personal lives and homeland.

Parallel Republic: the Art of Civil Disobedience was the centrepiece of Celebrating Syria: a Festival of Arts and Culture 2017, the first festival that is concerned with Syrian arts and culture in Europe, which was organised by Rethink Rebuild Society in Manchester over 2 weeks in July 2017.  Prior to that, Parallel Republic was on display at the People's History Museum in Manchester between January and April 2017.